Watch This Amazing Raleigh Bungalow Addition

1920 Raleigh Bungalow Remodel and Addition. Client comments:

“Very, very good job.”

“I’ve worked with a lot of contractors in my life and I’d have to say that hands down, that this is the best group I’ve ever worked with.”

“Personable, paid a lot of attention to details.”

“I like how Damon gets excited about the little things.”

“I appreciate the attention to detail. I appreciate the friendliness. I really like that I was kept in the loop about decisions and choices.”

“They went out of their way to make me feel like I was part of the process and that’s rare.”

“I am very happy with the work that we got. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.”

Asbury Remodeling & Construction, LLC

1002 Towhee Drive

Apex, NC 27502

919-904-4548

http://www.asburyremodeling.com/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oP4XMEqHz2U

https://www.youtube.com/user/AsburyRemodeling

The 4 Biggest Pinterest Marketing Mistakes We Made (And How You Can Learn From Them)

I’m a bit embarrassed to share my early Pinterest Pins.

But here they are anyway.

A pin loaded with hashtags, a really odd-sized image, an image with a one-word description, a Pin with no description at all.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes with Pinterest, both in the Pins I’ve created and in the strategies and plans I’ve set forth.

And I’ve come to discover that Pinterest is wholly unique from Twitter and Facebook, and that I’ve had things quite wrong from the start.

All these mistakes have been a wonderful opportunity to learn. I’m grateful for the chance to keep improving my Pinterest strategy, and I’d love to share with you all my mistakes and the new perspectives I’ve gained from researching and experimenting with the best ways to Pin on Pinterest.

Pinterest overview

What we’ve learned about Pinterest marketing

  1. Optimal timing matters less, given Pinterest’s long shelf life
  2. Followers don’t matter (as much)
  3. Pinterest isn’t a social network like Facebook and Twitter
  4. Pinterest is brand-centric

When were gearing up to launch Buffer for Pinterest, I had the great chance to dive deep into Pinterest marketing.

And I brought way too much hubris along with me.

Writing for a social media blog, I think I naturally assumed that all this Pinterest marketing would come intuitively, that the tactics I had learned elsewhere could be copied over to Pinterest without skipping a beat.

I was wrong.

Pinterest has a couple of wonderful phrases that encapsulate a lot of what’s special and unique about the site.

Your most coveted audiences are planning the future.

Take advantage of the world’s largest, most actionable focus group.

"Your most coveted audiences are planning their future." Amazing tip on Pinterest marketing and understanding the Pinterest audience.

It’s unique phrases like these, along with the unique perspectives, that have helped me get my focus on the right track when it comes to Pinterest marketing. Along the way, here are some of the many mistakes I have made.

Why optimal timing on Pinterest matters less

Mistake #1: I was keen to find the best time to post on Pinterest

We love to dig up studies on optimal timing at Buffer as we’ve found it to be a key component to the boost in reach for tweets, Facebook posts, and more.

I assumed the same would be true of Pinterest as well.

And while there is a bit of data about the best time to post on Pinterest, optimal timing is not the most useful strategy for Pinterest marketing.

This is due in large part to Pinterest’s Smart Feed, an algorithm-based feed where content turns up based on high-quality Pins and related Pins, not on ideal timing.

In this way, Pins enjoy a much longer shelf life than the typical social media update. With a well-written, keyword-rich description, a Pin’s traffic can resemble that of an evergreen blog post, with views and repins happening well into the future.

Piquora ran a study analyzing the half-life of Pins and discovered that:

  • 40% of the clicks happen within the first day.
  • 70% of the clicks happen within first 2 days.
  • 30% of clicks happen all the way through 30 days and beyond.

Lag between visit and Pin

The key, Piqora CEO Sharad Verma explained to Venturebeat, is that Pinterest doesn’t share Twitter and Facebook’s emphasis on immediacy. Pinterest visitors browse and search the network in a way that makes it as much like a search engine as a social network.

“In the world of Google, 70 percent of searches are long-tail, composed of four or more words,” Verma says. “Our hypothesis is that the same thing is happening on Pinterest … searching and Pinterest categories resurface the old pins.”

I’ve found this to be the case with a lot of the Pins on the Buffer account.

When looking at the Pinterest stats for our Pins, it’s clear that some of our top-performing Pins have been around for quite some time and continue to gain traffic and engagement.

One of our top post impressions for the past month (over 1,100 views) was a graphic we made for a Peg Fitzpatrick guest post. The post and graphic were shared on April 21. The 1,100 views occurred starting one week later, and they appear as if they’ll continue on well into the future!

Looking at our top posts overall from the past 30 days, four of the top seven posts (more than half) were Pinned prior to the data range—some as much as one year ago!

So ideal timing—whether it’s the day of the week or the time of day—appears to matter less than a well-optimized Pin.

pinterest analytics for Buffer

Courtney shared a great list of tips to optimize your Pin descriptions to capture that all-important long-term search traffic.

  • Make sure all your content has rich, Pinnable, and well-captioned images.
  • Make sure your pins link to a useful and relevant website.
  • Move keywords toward the front of board names and Pin descriptions to make them easy to find.
  • Optimize your headlines and image fields: Buffer pulls in the article’s headline as your Pin’s default description. Pinterest pulls in an image’s caption. (If there is no caption, it pulls alt text instead, and failing that, meta title).
  • Add advice, instructions or how-tos when you can – informative Pins are up to 30% more engaging than other Pins!
  • Prioritize clarity over cleverness in your Pinterest text.
  • Try for a description of between 200 and 310 characters. According to Dan Zarrella, who researched 11,000 pins, that’s the most repinned and commented-upon description range.

And beyond optimal timing, I’ve also been pondering what exactly the effect of frequency has on Pinning. Is there an optimal frequency for Pinterest? Does optimal frequency matter?

Like optimal timing, my sense is that optimal frequency might take a backseat to well-written Pin descriptions and high-quality, well-optimized visuals. The takeaway here could be: It’s not when you Pin or how often you Pin, it’s what you Pin and how well.

Followers is not a key metric on Pinterest

Mistake #2: I focused too much on Pinterest followers

Followers are one of social media’s most touted metrics. Follower count is a big deal to a lot of people (brands and businesses, too) on Twitter and Facebook.

On Pinterest?

It just doesn’t matter as much.

Followers on Pinterest do not make for a significant factor in any key way other than social proof. Whereas on other networks where a large following means a larger megaphone, Pins don’t circulate in the same way on Pinterest.

Again it goes back to Pinterest’s Smart Feed, which places Pins on your homepage according to an algorithm, keyed to your personal Pinterest history and keywords. Followers isn’t taken into account.

The Pin Junkie blog has some great context to the way Smart Feed works:

Instead of seeing pins in chronological order from pinners you follow, Pinterest has introduced algorithms and filters to present pins to you based on three factors:

1.  The highest quality pins from people you follow

2.  Related pins based on what you pin

3.  Interests you’re following

As a result, people are more likely to discover your pins from a search on Pinterest, rather than strictly from pins in their feed.

An algorithm-based home feed? Sounds a bit like Facebook, right? Well again there’s a key difference here between Facebook’s News Feed algorithm and Pinterest’s Smart Feed.

Your Pins can be seen by those who don’t follow you, without your having to pay for increased reach.

(On Facebook, if you’d like your post to appear in the feed of someone who’s yet to like your page, you’ll need to use Facebook Ads.)

And also, following on Pinterest can be quite a misnomer. Users can follow users. Users can also follow individual boards. This removes the following power from the person and places it on the content.

How Pinterest Differs From Twitter and Facebook

Mistake #3: I thought Pinterest was a social network, just like all the others

Technically-speaking, Pinterest is a social network, as its users connect with one another and share as part of a community. That being said, it’s not a social network in the same sense of a Twitter or a Facebook.

Tailwind CEO Daniel Maloney has a great way of putting it from a very high-level.

Twitter is mostly about what I’m doing.

Facebook is about who I am.

Pinterest is about who I want to be.

There’s a fundamental difference there, in the way that each of those networks is used. To a certain degree, the difference is based in time. Twitter and Facebook deal with the present—what I’m doing now, who I am today.

Pinterest is focused on the future.

In this way, Pinterest is more like a Pocket or an Evernote, tools that help you save ideas and articles for a future date.

social media (1)

We can see this in action in the way that users like Stephen Vian have pinned boards for woodworking, or how Anna Zubarev has pinned Blogging Strategies. On our Buffer account, too, we’ve built several boards that are focused on the things that we hope to achieve or to reference later.

buffer travel Pinterest board

There’s an evergreen quality to all of this content, where we can refer to our boards long into the future and continue to find valuable, useful information that we’ve stashed away until the time is right.

People plan on Pinterest. And that in and of itself makes Pinterest unique compared to its social media peers.

The foundation of Pinterest was built by brands

Mistake #4: I assumed brands came late to Pinterest

Did you know: Two-thirds of Pinterest content is pinned by brands.

Brands were the original power Pinners.

Users have come along to repin and spread these Pins virally, adding them to boards and collections of future-oriented wishes or dreams.

It’s always been about the brands on Pinterest.

This is a significant perspective change for me as it differs again from so many other social networks. Social media channels often build their large user bases first, then brands and businesses join later to see how they can best fit in.

Pinterest was brand-focused from the beginning, and brands remain the integral ingredient in the quality, visual content that gets pinned most often.

We can see a bit of the paradigm difference here by comparing Facebook and Pinterest. Facebook added Pages onto its existing network of social connections (people, basically), and it’s now trying to figure out the best way to balance the needs of the individual people—status updates, friend news, birthdays, babies, etc.—with the needs of the businesses—getting their content seen in the News Feed.

Pinterest has had brands involved all along. With two out of every three Pins coming from brands, much of the highly visual, Pinnable content originates from brands and spreads through individuals.

Take a look here at the most popular Pinned posts from last year (more here also).

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 7.50.38 AM Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 7.51.01 AM

Conclusion

Again I find myself coming back to the pair of Pinterest quotes that do such a great job of setting the expectation for how to view and plan for Pinterest marketing.

Your most coveted audiences are planning the future.

Take advantage of the world’s largest, most actionable focus group.

With this in mind, it helps to focus my strategy a bit more. Pinterest is future-focused, in a way that Facebook and Twitter are not. Our usual strategies of optimal timing might be a bit off here, and we have a chance to optimize descriptions and keywords instead.

What have you found to be key to your Pinterest strategies? Does any of this info resonate with you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Image sources: Pablo, UnSplash, IconFinder, Pinterest

The post The 4 Biggest Pinterest Marketing Mistakes We Made (And How You Can Learn From Them) appeared first on Social.

Help Us Improve the Moz Blog: 2015 Reader Survey

Posted by Trevor-Klein

In late 2013, we asked you all about your experience with the Moz Blog. It was the first time we’d collected direct feedback from our readers in more than three years—an eternity in the marketing industry. With the pace of change in our line of work (not to mention your schedules and reading habits) we didn’t want to wait that long again, so we’re taking this opportunity to ask you how well we’re keeping up.

Our mission is to help you all become better marketers, and to do that, we need to know more about you. What challenges do you all face? What are your pain points? Your day-to-day frustrations? If you could learn more about one or two (or three) topics, what would those be?

If you’ll help us out by taking this five-minute survey, we can make sure we’re offering the most useful and valuable content we possibly can. When we’re done looking through the responses, we’ll follow up with a post about what we learned.

Thanks, everyone; we’re excited to see what you have to say!

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Can’t see the survey? Click here to take it in a new tab.

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How to Build Links in Person

Posted by RuthBurrReedy

The important thing to remember when you’re trying to attract links—real, powerful, high-quality, authoritative links—is that behind each of those links is a person. The kinds of links that Google wants you to build are the kinds of links that you get when a real live person decides to share or link to your content.

That great content you’re creating is designed to be the kind of stuff people like to share, but getting people to share it often requires outreach. When you ask someone to read and possibly share your content, even if it’s content you think they’ll really like, you’re essentially asking them to do you a favor. That’s a lot easier to do if it’s somebody who already knows you and likes you.

This is why a relationship-based approach to link building can be so powerful. By connecting with site owners on a personal level, you can start creating a positive association between you and the content you share. Start thinking of a link as something that’s given online by a real live person who also exists outside the Internet, and you can move from being a link builder to being a relationship builder. One moment of link outreach can generate a link, but an ongoing relationship can result in multiple links and shares, not to mention introductions into that person’s network of friends and connections.

Plus, you might make a friend!

nasa robots making friends

Photo via Pixabay

A few caveats

In-person link outreach is not for everybody. There are a few reasons why building links in person might not work for you.

  • No budget: Like many content building and link outreach strategies, some of the in-person link building tactics I outline below will require a financial outlay, which not everybody can swing.
  • No time: In-person link outreach takes a lot of time, and some of it will almost certainly need to be spent outside of work hours (or during work hours, but not at work).
  • Too far away: If you’re not located in the same city/state/country as your client, it’s going to be harder for you to build links for them in person.
  • Not a people person: If you dread talking to people, especially people you don’t know, this strategy is going to be massively unpleasant for you.

Yes, you still have to build good content. Like any good strategy to attract links, building links in person is only going to work if you’re also taking the time to build linkable, shareable resources that people will want to link to (need some help building content for your industry? Check out Ronell Smith’s guide to creating content for boring industries). As you’re laying the foundation for your link outreach relationships, you should also be planning your content calendar—that way, by the time you’ve got a great linkable asset ready to share, you’ve gotten to know some people who can share it.

Don’t be creepy. The point of in-person link building is not to lie, cheat, or manipulate people into being friends with you in order to secretly use them for their sweet, sweet links. The point is to form strong, genuine professional relationships with people who will appreciate the awesome work you do. You’ll be a stronger marketer for it, and maybe even meet your next boss or BFF.

All right! Let’s make some friends.

Where to build links in person

Trade shows and conferences. This is the “budget outlay” item that I mentioned earlier: if you can swing it, attend some trade shows and conferences in your/your client’s industry. Of course, this is easier to do if you’re in-house, or only building links for a few clients, than if you have a whole roster of different sites in different industries under your care.

If your clients are in your area, make sure they let you know when they’ll be attending or exhibiting at events, and see if you can tag along. Events like a home and garden show usually have tickets for under $20. In-house marketers should also see if they can be part of the booth staff at trade shows where their clients are exhibiting. If there’s a relevant conference or trade show in your area and your client isn’t exhibiting, see if you can get an expo-only pass for free or a reduced rate.

Marketing conferences can be a great place to hone your SEO skills, but they can also be a great place to connect with other marketers. If you’re attending a marketing/SEO conference, take a look at the attendee list and see if there are other marketers from your industry who will be attending (especially if they don’t work for competitors). Another SEO is going to understand why you might be asking them to share or link to your content, so it’s worth your while to cultivate relationships with other SEOs who might have access to topically-related sites. A marketing conference is a great way for SEOs with a lot of different clients to build link relationships across multiple industries, too.

attendees at MozCon

Shane Macomber Photography

Meetups and trade associations. In addition to higher-dollar industry events, most metro areas have a variety of meetups, clubs and associations, many of which are free to join. If your client is a member of an industry association, see if you can tag along to an event that’s open to the public; even closed-membership groups tend to have a mixer or two every year to let potential new members experience the group.

Check sites like Meetup, LinkedIn, Facebook and yes, Google+, for groups in your area. There may be groups focused on your client’s industry/ies, but it’s also worthwhile to start attending local events around marketing, PR, advertising, social media, etc. to connect with other local marketers. Inbound links from sites in the same local area can be quite valuable for websites with a strong local focus, so building link relationships within your local community is definitely worth doing—and is another way to build link relationships for multiple clients at once.

Assessing link relationships

Of course, just because you’ve met someone in person doesn’t mean they’re going to link to you, or even that you’d necessarily want a link from them. Try to do some recon before heading to the event, so you can keep an eye out for your dream link targets.

Wherever possible, get a list of people who will be attending the event; this will help you pick out a few people with whom you’d really like to connect. If you can’t get a list beforehand, compile a list of the people you met afterward and do some research.

Don’t forget that attendees are people, not just businesses—you’ll want to take some time to check attendees out on social media and LinkedIn, too. A person may have a business card from one company but actually work with multiple businesses. Someone with no website of their own might be a regular contributor to an industry blog, or just fantastically well-connected in the community you’re trying to join and still worth getting to know. A person’s position within a company will matter, too—you’re more likely to get a link from a marketing/web person (who has access to the website) than, e.g., the manufacturing plant supervisor (who probably doesn’t, and also has other things to do).

Take some time to evaluate sites like you would any other link prospect. Stay away from sites that appear at risk for a penalty, or are sleazy enough that you don’t want to associate your client’s brand with them. That doesn’t mean they’re not still worth getting to know as people (you should certainly never shun people at conferences, that’s just rude), it just means that they won’t be a focus of your link outreach later.

Make the connection

When you meet someone with whom you’d like to build a link-based relationship, don’t start out asking for the link, any more than you would online. If you’re at a networking or industry event, there’s a basic understanding that people are there to make professional connections—there’s no need to be more specific than that and say you’re there to make connections that might result in links (nobody wants to feel like they’re being used for their links).

After your research, you’ll probably have a few people who you want to make sure you meet, but don’t seek them out at the expense of forming other connections. Remember that your goal here is more than just a link—it’s a relationship, which could be mutually beneficial to both of you. Ask people questions about themselves, their work and what they think about the event. Just like on social media, you don’t want to talk only about yourself—your main success metric for these events should be engagement.

When a networking conversation is drawing to a natural close, excuse yourself (if you need an excuse, getting more food or drink is usually a good bet)—but make sure to get a business card, or social media info from your new professional connection. As you follow your new friends on Twitter or G+, add them to a list or circle for people from the event or group you’ve attended so you have them all in one place later.

Follow up

By the end of the event, you should have a list of new friends who might link to or share your content. Your next step is not to ask them to do so, however (unless you have a specific content piece that came up in your conversation that they were interested in). Your next step is to nurture that connection.

Start with a quick tweet or email the next morning that says it was great to meet them and maybe references something in your conversation. If your only point of contact for them is email, use it very sparingly—nobody likes aggressive emails. Your best best in this case is to try to see them again at the next event, to continue nurturing your relationship in person. You could also see if they want to meet for coffee or lunch to talk shop.

nurturing a relationship over the phone

Photo via Pixabay

If you’ve added your new connections on social media, take some time every day to check in with your list. Talk to them—they’re your new friends! Reply to their tweets, answer questions they might ask, and above all, share their content when they post it. You’re showing them that you’re a connection worth having by bringing value to their conversations. Make sure to switch up the time of day you’re doing this, since different people use social media at different times of day. If you get into a conversation with some of their followers, make sure to add them to your list, too.

Over time, it will become clear which people are turning into real connections and which are just not going to respond to you. You’ll also see some of your new pals sharing the content you post, without you even having to ask them—that’s a great sign that they’re seeing you and your content as valuable.

When your feel your relationship with someone is at a point where you can ask them for a favor without it being weird, go ahead and ask them to share or link to a piece of content of yours. Make sure the content in question is actually relevant to what they do/like; one awesome thing about relationship-based link building is that you may actually get content ideas by listening to what your new friends have to say. Be cool about it—a simple “Hey, I thought you’d like this, check it out” is often enough.

All of this relationship building can also be done online—people do it all the time. However, in my experience, meeting someone in person can drastically reduce the amount of time and the number of interactions it can take to build trust with someone and get to the point where you’re happy to share each other’s content. As with most link-building strategies, a time investment up-front can pay dividends down the line.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

The Biggest Social Media Science Study: What 4.8 Million Tweets Say About the Best Time to Tweet

Imagine removing all guesswork when you schedule your tweets, knowing the times that work for maximum clicks and maximum engagement.

As someone who shares frequently to social media, this info would be fantastic to have! We’re always eager to dig up new research into social media best practices—things like length and frequency and timing.

The timing element, in particular, feels like one where we’d love to dig deeper. And we just so happen to have a host of data on this from the 2 million users who have signed up for Buffer!

With a big hand from our data team, we analyzed over 4.8 million tweets across 10,000 profiles, pulling the stats on how clicks and engagement and timing occur throughout the day and in different time zones. We’d love to share with you what we found!

best time for twitter

The best time to tweet: Our 4.8 million-tweet research study

Our key learnings

Wow, we learned so much looking at the awesome stats from those who use Buffer! Here were some of the takeaways we came up with. I’d love to hear what catches your eye, too!

  • Early mornings are the best time to tweet in order to get clicks.
  • Evenings and late at night are the best time, on average, for total engagement with your tweets
  • In some cases, the most popular times to post are opposite of the best times to post.
  • Popular times and best times to tweet differ across time zones.

The most popular time to tweet:

Noon to 1:00 p.m.

We’ve taken the data from all tweets sent through Buffer to find the most popular times for posting to Twitter. Looking at all tweets sent across all major time zones, here is an overview of the most popular times to tweet.

  • Noon to 1:00 p.m. local time, on average for each time zone, is the most popular time to tweet
  • The highest volume of tweets occurs between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., peaking between noon and 1:00 p.m.
  • The fewest tweets are sent between 3:00 and 4:00 a.m.

Here’s the chart for the most popular times worldwide, taken from an average of 10 major time zones (the times represent local time).

Most Popular Time to Tweet Worldwide

Here is the graph for the most popular times to tweet in each of the four major U.S. time zones. 

Buffer social media science study - US popular times to tweet

(We normalized the data to account for daylight’s savings in the U.S. as well.)

Here are the charts for the major time zones in Europe and Africa.

Most Popular Time to Tweet Europe

(Note: The London (GMT) time zone used to be the default time zone for new Buffer users, so our data for GMT is not as clean as we would like it to be. We’ve omitted any takeaways for GMT from the research results here.)

Here are the charts for the major time zones in Asia and Australia.

Most Popular Time to Tweet Australia Asia

It’s interesting to see how the most popular time to tweet varies across the time zones. We’ve shared Buffer’s 10 most popular time zones in the charts above. Here’s a list of each most popular hour for the 10 major time zones.

  • Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc. (Pacific Time): 9:00 a.m.
  • Denver (Mountain Time): noon
  • Chicago (Central Time): noon
  • New York, Boston, Atlanta, Miami, etc. (Eastern Time): noon
  • Madrid, Rome, Paris, etc. (Central European): 4:00 p.m.
  • Cape Town, Cairo, Helsinki, etc. (Eastern European): 8:00 p.m.
  • Sydney (Australian Eastern): 10:00 p.m.
  • Hong Kong (Hong Kong Time): 8:00 a.m.
  • Tokyo (Japan Time): 2:00 a.m.
  • Shanghai, Taipei, etc. (China Time): noon

For any clarification on this or the other research throughout this article, feel free to leave a comment and we’ll get right back to you.

Takeaways & thoughts:

  • The most popular time to post could be due to a number of factors: This is when most people have access to Twitter (perhaps at a work computer), this is when online audiences are most likely to be connected (see Burrito Principle), etc.
  • Should you post during the most popular times? That’s one possibility. Also, you may find success posting at non-peak times, when the volume of tweets is lower.
  • If you have a large international audience on Twitter, you may wish to locate the particular part of the world where they’re from, and adjust your schedule accordingly. You can find the times when your audience may be online with tools like Followerwonk and Crowdfire.

The best times to tweet to get more clicks

We were excited to dig into the specific metrics for each of these tweets, too, in hopes of coming up with some recommendations and best practices to test out for your Twitter strategy.

First up, the best time to tweet for clicks.

Looking at the data, we found the following trends for maximizing your chance to get more clicks:

  • Tweets sent between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m. earn the most clicks on average
  • The highest number of clicks per tweet occurs between 2:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m., peaking between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m.
  • The fewest clicks per tweet happen in the morning (when tweet volume is particularly high), between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m..

The data in the below chart is the worldwide average, calculated for the local time in each time zone. So the peak at the 2:00 a.m. hour would hold true as the overall top time no matter which time zone you’re in—2:00 a.m. in Los Angeles, New York, Cape Town, Hong Kong, etc.Best Times to Tweet for Clicks Worldwide

For the specifics on each of the best time to tweet for clicks in each of the major time zones in Buffer, here’s a breakdown.

  • Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc. (Pacific Time): 2:00 a.m.
  • Denver (Mountain Time): 7:00 p.m.
  • Chicago (Central Time): 2:00 a.m.
  • New York, Boston, Atlanta, Miami, etc. (Eastern Time): 11:00 p.m.
  • Madrid, Rome, Paris, Berlin, etc. (Central European): 2:00 a.m.
  • Cape Town, Cairo, Istanbul, etc. (Eastern European): 8:00 p.m.
  • Sydney (Australian Eastern): 2:00 a.m.
  • Hong Kong (Hong Kong Time): 5:00 a.m.
  • Shanghai, Taipei, etc. (China Time): noon
  • Tokyo (Japan Time): 8:00 a.m.

Best Times to Tweet for Clicks - by time zone

Takeaways & thoughts:

  • Clicks was far and away the largest engagement metric that we tracked in this study (compared to retweets, replies, and favorites).
  • Some of the recommended best times for individual time zones show that non-peak hours are the top time to tweet for clicks. This data may reflect some particularly high-achieving posts—some outliers—that bring up the average when the volume of tweets is lowest. Still, it’d be a great one to test for your profile to see what results you get.
  • One neat thing to keep in mind is that a non-peak hour in, say, Los Angeles may correspond to a peak hour in London or Paris. The worldwide audience is definitely one to consider when finding the best time to tweet.

The best times for overall engagement with your tweet

We define engagement as clicks plus retweets, favorites, and replies. When looking at all these interactions together, we found the following trends for maximizing your chance to get the most engagement on your tweets:

  • Tweets sent between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m. earn the most total engagement on average
  • The highest amount of engagement per tweet occurs between 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., peaking between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m.
  • The smallest amount of engagement happens during traditional work hours, between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

Best Times to Tweet for Engagement

Takeaways & thoughts:

  • The best times to tweet for engagement are quite the inverse of the most popular times to tweet. (The late-night infomercial effect—tweet when fewer people are tweeting—seems to be the case here.)

The best times for retweets and favorites on your tweets

Adding together two of the most common engagement metrics, we found some interesting trends for maximizing the retweets and favorites on your tweets, especially for those with a U.S. audience.

Looking at 1.1 million tweets from U.S. Buffer users from January through March 2015, here were some of the notable takeaways we found:

  • Tweets sent at the 9:00 p.m. hour in the U.S. earn the most retweets and favorites on average
  • The highest number of retweets and favorites occurs between 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m., peaking between 9:00 and 10:00 p.m.
  • The lowest retweet-favorite engagement happens at 3:00 a.m.

(Interesting to note, the takeaways from this data compared to the worldwide engagement data differ slightly for a couple reasons: 1) clicks represent a huge portion of overall engagement, and 2) the worldwide vs. US datasets vary.)

Best Times to Tweet for Engagement USA

We’d love to make it easy for you to share these results with your audience, your friends, your clients—anyone you think might benefit from them.

>> Download every chart from this post (.zip) <<

The methodology for our research

We studied all tweets ever sent through Buffer—4.8 million tweets since October 2010!

Based on this sample set, we looked at the number of clicks per tweet, favorites per tweet, retweets per tweet, and replies per tweet, in accordance with the time of day that the tweet was posted to Twitter.

Further, we segmented the results according to time zones, based on the assumption that the learnings might be more actionable if they could be specific to exactly where you live and work.

We had an interesting opportunity to consider whether median or average would be the better metric to use for our insights. It turns out that so many tweets in the dataset receive minimal engagement that the median was often zero. For this reason, we chose to display the average.

Over to you: What are your takeaways?

We’re so grateful for the chance to dig into the stats from the many tweets that people choose to share with Buffer. The data is super insightful, both for sharing with others and for impacting our own social media marketing plans!

What did you notice from the stats here?

Did any of the results surprise you or get you thinking about your plans in a different way?

I’d love to hear your take on this! Feel free to share any thoughts at all in the comments!

Image sources: IconFinder, Blurgrounds, Death to the Stock Photo, UnSplash

The post The Biggest Social Media Science Study: What 4.8 Million Tweets Say About the Best Time to Tweet appeared first on Social.

How to Choose the Right Stock Photo for Your Next Project

You’ve likely got a great way to search the web for the best free stock photos.

And once you know where to look, how do you decide which photos to choose?

Should you go with abstract or specific?

What is the best color profile?

What is the best orientation?

There are so many great sources for free photos. I find myself asking these questions most every time I pick a photo—how to identify the right stock photo for a project. There’s a good bit of research and advice out there on how to make the best choice when it comes to stock photos. Take a look at what I’ve found here.

Choose the Right Stock Photo

1. Know where your image is going

How will you use the photo? Where will the photo appear?

There’re a million different places an image could appear, based on the million or more types of projects that involve stock photography.

Let’s consider online content for a moment.

When we look at the different places that a stock photo may appear, there’s often a handful that come to mind most often:

A full-width image in the header

Examples of this include stories on Medium and popular blogs like Crew or Zapier.

Medium screenshot

A background image as part of a graphic, behind text or icons

Examples of this include the images we create for Buffer blog posts and some great designs on blogs like Copyblogger and Agora Pulse.

Copyblogger screenshot

Right-aligned images inside blog posts

Examples include The Social Times blog. (The image could also be left-aligned, too, though the far more common usage is right-aligned.)

The Social Times blog

Full-width images inside blog posts

Examples include the Unbounce blog and the Quick Sprout blog.

Quick Sprout blog

Social media featured images

Examples include Facebook and Google+ when you share a link and Twitter when you’ve enabled Twitter cards.

Facebook example

Slidedeck backgrounds

Lots of great examples on SlideShare.

SlideShare example

In each of the examples above, it’s possible that a different stock photo would be considered an ideal fit, based on what looks good with text on top of it, what looks good splashed on Facebook, or what looks good at the start of a blog post.

In my experience, I’ve seen stock photos commonly used in one of two ways. Either

  1. On their own as standalone images
  2. With text or graphics placed on top, as designed images

Both are great routes forward, especially considering the unique places these images are used online. Once you figure out where your image is going and how it will be used, you’re certain to have a greater sense of what’s right stock photo for your project.

2. Understand the contrast of your image

Identify areas of low contrast if you plan on adding text or graphics to the image

Let’s say you want to add an overlay onto your image—a catchy quote with Pablo or an announcement blurb and graphic over a cool background.

The ideal stock photo for these projects would be one with areas of low contrast so that your text and graphics have an even, consistent backdrop.

The SlideShare blog has a good example of how contrast affects the design of image. SlideShare refers to those images with areas of low contrast as text-friendly images.

Good example:

Good1

Bad example:

Bad1

Put another way, these ideal stock photos with areas of low contrast make it possible that your text and graphics will have high contrast with the photo.

For instance, an image with many shades of blue could be said to have low contrast. If you were to add white text on top, the white text would have high contrast with the blue image.

If you always add white text to your images, look for images with darker colors.

If you’ve grabbed a black icon from a site like The Noun Project, you’ll want to place it on an image with lighter tones.

One way to look at contrast in this sense is to picture the color wheel. Selecting colors that are opposite one another on the wheel creates a contrasting effect. You can choose an ideal stock image that focuses on one color and text and graphics that focus on an opposite one.

color_contrast_and_dimensions

Legibility and clarity are key here. Typically when you create an image with text, graphics, or other elements overlaid onto a photo, the most important visual aspect of your image will be your enhancements, not the stock photo itself.

You don’t need to think much about the content of the picture—especially if you’ll be adding strong effects like blur or darken/lighten.

You’ll just want something that has the right contrast to make your added elements pop.

Another trick I like to try, when possible, is to add an image to my photo editor (Canva, typically) and change the image to black-and-white. Usually quite quickly I can tell if the image has high or low contrast within its colors.

(You’ll also grow to notice the right contrast rather intuitively over time.)

Where this becomes important is when you begin to place elements on top of the image. Text, for instance, has the chance to be difficult to read if you’re placing it over contrasting colors—white text could disappear over the white parts of the image yet still look just fine over the darker colors, for instance.

3. Choose colors that elicit a visceral response

Attention-grabbing colors & images will stand out on social

Visceral reactions are some of the strongest connections we can make to visual content.

Biologically, when we feel a visceral reaction, we tap into the part of the brain responsible for survival instincts and fight-or-flight responses. The response is subconscious. It originates from the central nervous system whenever we’re stimulated by vital factors like food, shelter, danger, or reproduction. We might not be able to explain why we love a beautiful design because our conscious thought hasn’t yet caught up with our subconscious.

And one of the ways to drive these visceral reactions is with color choice.

A study from Georgia Tech looked at 1 million Pinterest images for the color trends between the highest and lowest shared images. They found:

  •    Red, Purple and Pink promote sharing
  •    Green, Black, Blue and Yellow all stop people from sharing

The thinking was that the three highly-shared colors—red, purple and pink—are tied to visceral emotions. And the overall takeaway is that color makes for a huge portion of an image’s success.

To find an ideal stock photo that’s rich with attention-grabbing color, you can again turn to contrast—in particular, the seven color contrasts identified by Johannes Itten.

  1. Pure (hue) contrast
  2. Light-dark contrast
  3. Cold-warm contrast
  4. Complementary contrast
  5. Simultaneous contrast
  6. Contrast of quality (color saturation)
  7. Contrast of quantity

(For more detail on each of these seven, I’d highly recommend this blog post from Love of Graphics.)

Two of Itten’s seven color contrasts that stand out to me when choosing stock photos are contrast of saturation and contrast of hue. The Color at Play blog created some great examples of these contrasts in action.

Contrast in saturation

Print

Example:

photo-1429616588302-fec569e203ce

Contrast in hue

Print

Example:

photo-1429000263672-1b8b4008d2f7

4. Find an image that supports your message

Attention-grabbing images are great, so long as they don’t distract

In most cases, stock photos are generic and abstract enough that they can grab attention without diverting too much focus.

There are, however, exceptions.

Simply, when choosing a stock photo, find one that does not distract from the main message of your article, update, or headline.

Typically, distracting images would be those that have one or more of these qualities:

  • Controversial
  • Loud, garish
  • Too specific
  • Recognizable
  • Meme

Here’s an example of one that I used in a story. The image was probably a bit too specific—a football game, fans dressed in white, lettering in the end zone—and on looking back at it now, my mind immediately begins trying to figure out just who those teams are (instead of focusing on the cool article).

Facebook example post

5. Take care to pick a person

What to consider when picking a photo with a person

There’s been some neat research about this question. What effect is there, if any, should you choose a photo with a person?

Turns out, there are a lot of different ways to include a person in your picture.

  • Looking away from camera vs. looking at camera
  • Back of head vs. face
  • Shadow/silhouette
  • Pics of arms, legs, or bodies

A brief overview of some case studies on the topic reveals these findings:

37 Signals Person Page test

eye tracking study stock photos with people

6. Be mindful of the size and shape

Which orientation do you want? Tall vs. wide vs. square

One factor that might sway your decision one way or another is the size and shape of an image. In general, these are the ideal image sizes for each social network:

The commonly-held best practice is to aim for something like this:

  • Facebook & Instagram — square images
  • Pinterest & Google+ — tall images
  • Twitter — wide images

What happens if you fall in love with an image that isn’t the right size? 

There’s a fun tip we use here at Buffer for how to crop easily.

When you double-click to open an image on your Mac computer, you enter Preview, which contains several useful tools.

To crop, place your mouse over the picture and click and drag to select the area you want to keep. Then go to Tools > Crop (or press Command+K).

You can also resize large images from Preview by going to Tools > Adjust Size.

In this way, you can fall in love with just about any image and crop down to the size and shape you need.

7. How to perform a search

The best way to search for abstract photos

Many of our favorite free image sources have robust search features to help you dig through the photo archives.

Sometimes there can be a bit of an art to finding what you’re after.

If you’re writing an article about brand management, for example, it could be difficult to know which terms to use in your search; if you were to search for “brand” or “management,” the image results might be a bit lean and off-topic.

What we like to do in searches for the Buffer blog is to enter terms that have to do with the image we have in mind, rather than the title of the page itself.

  • For social media posts, we often look to find pictures of computers, laptops, mobile devices, or keyboards.
  • For analytics posts, we look for transportation, things with forward motion.
  • For research posts, we might search for books or pen and paper.

We also find that crowd shots or interactive photos with two or more people together make for good social media images.

What this might look like in practice:

  1. Search according to the verbs in your headlines or page titles, rather than the nouns
  2. Go to the thesaurus to find variations of your search terms (a simple thesaurus: Google search for “[keyword] synonym”)
  3. Search for nouns related to your verbs, e.g. “launch” could mean rockets or race cars

Over to you

What are your favorite tips for finding a great stock photo?

I’d love the chance to learn from you! Leave any thoughts here in the comments, and I’ll respond right away.

Image sources: Pablo, IconFinder, SlideShare, John Barsby Photography, Color at Play, UnSplash37 Signals, Eyequant

The post How to Choose the Right Stock Photo for Your Next Project appeared first on Social.

Your Daily SEO Fix: Week 5

Posted by Trevor-Klein

We’ve arrived, folks! This is the last installment of our short (< 2-minute) video tutorials that help you all get the most out of Moz’s tools. If you haven’t been following along, these are each designed to solve a use case that we regularly hear about from Moz community members.

Here’s a quick recap of the previous round-ups in case you missed them:

  • Week 1: Reclaim links using Open Site Explorer, build links using Fresh Web Explorer, and find the best time to tweet using Followerwonk.
  • Week 2: Analyze SERPs using new MozBar features, boost your rankings through on-page optimization, check your anchor text using Open Site Explorer, do keyword research with OSE and the keyword difficulty tool, and discover keyword opportunities in Moz Analytics.
  • Week 3: Compare link metrics in Open Site Explorer, find tweet topics with Followerwonk, create custom reports in Moz Analytics, use Spam Score to identify high-risk links, and get link building opportunities delivered to your inbox.
  • Week 4: Use Fresh Web Explorer to build links, analyze rank progress for a given keyword, use the MozBar to analyze your competitors’ site markup, use the Top Pages report to find content ideas, and find on-site errors with Crawl Test.

We’ve got five new fixes for you in this edition:

  • How to Use the Full SERP Report
  • How to Find Fresh Links and Manage Your Brand Online Using Open Site Explorer
  • How to Build Your Link Profile with Link Intersect
  • How to Find Local Citations Using the MozBar
  • Bloopers: How to Screw Up While Filming a Daily SEO Fix

Hope you enjoy them!


Fix 1: How to Use the Full SERP Report

Moz’s Full SERP Report is a detailed report that shows the top ten ranking URLs for a specific keyword and presents the potential ranking signals in an easy-to-view format. In this Daily SEO Fix, Meredith breaks down the report so you can see all the sections and how each are used.

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https://www.youtube.com/embed/dBOS3PGYpwk


Fix 2: How to Find Fresh Links and Manage Your Brand Online Using Open Site Explorer

The Just-Discovered Links report in Open Site Explorer helps you discover recently created links within an hour of them being published. In this fix, Nick shows you how to use the report to view who is linking to you, how they’re doing it, and what they are saying, so you can capitalize on link opportunities while they’re still fresh and join the conversation about your brand.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/VP2DoDy3Fj4


Fix 3: How to Build Your Link Profile with Link Intersect

The quantity and (more importantly) quality of backlinks to your website make up your link profile, one of the most important elements in SEO and an incredibly important factor in search engine rankings. In this Daily SEO Fix, Tori shows you how to use Moz’s Link Intersect tool to analyze the competitions’ backlinks. Plus, learn how to find opportunities to build links and strengthen your own link profile.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/r7Ob1i3v7To


Fix 4: How to Find Local Citations Using the MozBar

Citations are mentions of your business and address on webpages other than your own such as an online yellow pages directory or a local business association page. They are a key component in search engine ranking algorithms so building consistent and accurate citations for your local business(s) is a key Local SEO tactic. In today’s Daily SEO Fix, Tori shows you how to use MozBar to find local citations around the web

https://www.youtube.com/embed/AGqKmru2VKc


Bloopers: How to Screw Up While Filming a Daily SEO Fix

We had a lot of fun filming this series, and there were plenty of laughs along the way. Like these ones. =)

http://fast.wistia.net/embed/iframe/cldo3ziuxb?videoFoam=true


Looking for more?

We’ve got more videos in the previous four weeks’ round-ups!

Your Daily SEO Fix: Week 1

Your Daily SEO Fix: Week 2

Your Daily SEO Fix: Week 3

Your Daily SEO Fix: Week 4


Don’t have a Pro subscription? No problem. Everything we cover in these Daily SEO Fix videos is available with a free 30-day trial.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

The Colossus Update: Waking The Giant

Posted by Dr-Pete

Yesterday morning, we woke up to a historically massive temperature spike on MozCast, after an unusually quiet weekend. The 10-day weather looked like this:

That’s 101.8°F, one of the hottest verified days on record, second only to a series of unconfirmed spikes in June of 2013. For reference, the first Penguin update clocked in at 93.1°.

Unfortunately, trying to determine how the algorithm changed from looking at individual keywords (even thousands of them) is more art than science, and even the art is more often Ms. Johnson’s Kindergarten class than Picasso. Sometimes, though, we catch a break and spot something.

The First Clue: HTTPS

When you watch enough SERPs, you start to realize that change is normal. So, the trick is to find the queries that changed a lot on the day in question but are historically quiet. Looking at a few of these, I noticed some apparent shake-ups in HTTP vs. HTTPS (secure) URLs. So, the question becomes: are these anecdotes, or do they represent a pattern?

I dove in and looked at how many URLs for our 10,000 page-1 SERPs were HTTPS over the past few days, and I saw this:

On the morning of June 17, HTTPS URLs on page 1 jumped from 16.9% to 18.4% (a 9.9% day-over-day increase), after trending up for a few days. This represents the total real-estate occupied by HTTPS URLs, but how did rankings fare? Here are the average rankings across all HTTPS results:

HTTPS URLs also seem to have gotten a rankings boost – dropping (with “dropping” being a positive thing) from an average of 2.96 to 2.79 in the space of 24 hours.

Seems pretty convincing, right? Here’s the problem: rankings don’t just change because Google changes the algorithm. We are, collectively, changing the web every minute of the day. Often, those changes are just background noise (and there’s a lot of noise), but sometimes a giant awakens.

The Second Clue: Wikipedia

Anecdotally, I noticed that some Wikipedia URLs seemed to be flipping from HTTP to HTTPS. I ran a quick count, and this wasn’t just a fluke. It turns out that Wikipedia started switching their entire site to HTTPS around June 12 (hat tip to Jan Dunlop). This change is expected to take a couple of weeks.

It’s just one site, though, right? Well, historically, this one site is the #1 largest land-holder across the SERP real-estate we track, with over 5% of the total page-1 URLs in our tracking data (5.19% as of June 17). Wikipedia is a giant, and its movements can shake the entire web.

So, how do we tease this apart? If Wikipedia’s URLs had simply flipped from HTTP to HTTPS, we should see a pretty standard pattern of shake-up. Those URLs would look to have changed, but the SERPS around them would be quiet. So, I ran an analysis of what the temperature would’ve been if we ignored the protocol (treating HTTP/HTTPS as the same). While slightly lower, that temperature was still a scorching 96.6°F.

Is it possible that Wikipedia moving to HTTPS also made the site eligible for a rankings boost from previous algorithm updates, thus disrupting page 1 without any code changes on Google’s end? Yes, it is possible – even a relatively small rankings boost for Wikipedia from the original HTTPS algorithm update could have a broad impact.

The Third Clue: Google?

So far, Google has only said that this was not a Panda update. There have been rumors that the HTTPS update would get a boost, as recently as SMX Advanced earlier this month, but no timeline was given for when that might happen.

Is it possible that Wikipedia’s publicly announced switch finally gave Google the confidence to boost the HTTPS signal? Again, yes, it’s possible, but we can only speculate at this point.

My gut feeling is that this was more than just a waking giant, even as powerful of a SERP force as Wikipedia has become. We should know more as their HTTPS roll-out continues and their index settles down. In the meantime, I think we can expect Google to become increasingly serious about HTTPS, even if what we saw yesterday turns out not to have been an algorithm update.

In the meantime, I’m going to melodramatically name this “The Colossus Update” because, well, it sounds cool. If this indeed was an algorithm update, I’m sure Google would prefer something sensible, like “HTTPS Update 2” or “Securageddon” (sorry, Gary).

Update from Google: Gary Illyes said that he’s not aware of an HTTPS update (via Twitter):

No comment on other updates, or the potential impact of a Wikipedia change. I feel strongly that there is an HTTPS connection in the data, but as I said – that doesn’t necessarily mean the algorithm changed.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

Social Media for Non-Profits: High-Impact Tips and the Best Free Tools

Whenever we have the chance to chat with folks about social media stats and marketing strategies, we are amazed at the many unique ways you all go about charting a path to social media success.

Every industry and niche—every social profile, even—is unique.

Non-profits are a great example of a segment of social media with its own unique elements and expectations. The non-profit structure—donation-backed, humanitarian-focused, member-based—presents an opportunity for some really neat ways of putting social media to good use, and I’ve done my best to collect a number of stats, tips, and strategies here in this post.

Do you run a non-profit? Do you help your non-profit share to social media? I’d love to learn from your experience also.

Social Media for Non-Profits

Survey Says … How Non-Profits Share to Social Media

1. The pinnacle of engagement

What is the absolute best form of engagement your community could give you or your business?

A mention on social media?

A 1:1 email conversation with you?

A share of something you’ve written on your blog?

Nearly half of non-profits (47%) find that the pinnacle of engagement is a donation. 

This data comes from a survey performed by the Case Foundation, which goes on to highlight the connection between this pinnacle of engagement and its effect on how non-profits view their different marketing channels, including social media:

Nonprofits overwhelmingly (88%) said their most important communication tools were email and their websites, even though fully 97% of them are on Facebook. This may have to do with the fact that in their mind, the pinnacle of engagement is a donation (47%). Clearly, simply getting folks to retweet or comment (18% each) is helpful only to the extent it culminates in financial support, which still typically happens through a donate page.

Best marketing channels for non-profits

How does social media fit into a marketing strategy when a non-profit’s focus is quite donation driven? (I’ll hope to offer some answers below.)

2. The case for social media—it’s growing, fast!

Though email and websites still rule as non-profit marketing channels, social media is catching up. In Social Media Benchmark Study’s 2015 report, they found the following:

  • Email list sizes grew 11% in the past year
  • Facebook and Twitter followers grew 42% and 37%, respectively

For non-profits, social media is growing 3x faster than email. 

In terms of total numbers, email still dwarfs social. For every 1,000 email subscribers, non-profits have on average 285 Facebook fans and 112 Twitter followers.

But the gap is closing.

Here are some benchmark numbers of where non-profits stand in terms of social media followers, broken down by segment.

Average Facebook followers non-profits 2014 Average Twitter followers for non profits 2014

(The Small, Medium, Large distinctions in the charts above are based on a non-profit’s total number of email subscribers. Small non-profits are those with 100,000 or fewer subscribers. Medium is 100,000 to 500,000. Large is 500,000 and up.)

3. Many non-profits are short on social media staff

Social Media Benchmark Study’s 2012 results claimed that nonprofits only allocated 1/4 of one full-time person to social media marketing. Case Foundation’s 2014 study (two years later) found that the number had increased, if only slightly: Half of survey respondents had one full-time or part-time person doing social media. For the remaining half, one quarter used a social media team, the other quarter is ad-libbing it.

The same Case Foundation report found lack of staffing to be the biggest challenge for non-profits.

With this being the case, it becomes all the more important to share to social media as efficiently as possible, saving as much time as possible.

4. The preferred social networks for non-profits

Most every non-profit is on Facebook. Quite a few are on Twitter, and many do LinkedIn and YouTube, too.

In a HubSpot survey of small-to-medium non-profits in the U.S., here’s the breakdown of the top 10 social networks used by non-profits:

  1. Facebook (98%)
  2. Twitter (~70%)
  3. LinkedIn (~55%)
  4. YouTube (~45%)
  5. Pinterest (~25%)
  6. Instagram (~15%)
  7. Google+ (~15%)
  8. Flickr (~10%)
  9. Tumblr (~5%)
  10. SlideShare (<5%)

Most popular social networks for non profits

The HubSpot survey also had a number of other fascinating insights into how these non-profits spend their time on social media. In particular, the following tidbits stood out:

  • Most nonprofits do not have a documented social media strategy.
  • Responsibility typically falls to only one employee.
  • Tracking the social media accounts of donors within a donor database is a rare practice.

And, to highlight the effect of having little staff to handle social media, HubSpot’s survey found that more than half of non-profits spend 2 hours or less per week on social media marketing (whereas half of for-profit businesses spend at least 6 hours per week).

How much time do non profits spend on social media per week

5. What do non-profits measure? 

HubSpot found that about half of non-profits measure their social activities, which is about twice as good as the average for for-profit businesses.

What are non-profits measuring?

The Case Foundation’s study found that the most popular social media measurement tool is Facebook Insights, which makes sense given Facebook’s popularity among non-profits.

(The second most popular metric is Twitter followers.)

As far as what non-profits do with the info from Facebook Insights, the Case Foundation made this discovery:

Fully 60% of our audience still believe that there is no benchmark for what an average engagement rate is on Facebook. Twenty-two percent said the benchmark was 2-4%, but from our personal experience, only the most engaging posts from nonprofits with highly active communities can hope to attract those numbers.

(For our Buffer Facebook page, we reach between 2-3% of our fans.)

An Easy-to-Follow Social Media Strategy for Non-Profits

Tips

One more finding that stood out from the Case Foundation survey was that 74 percent of non-profits use social media as a megaphone to announce events and share what they’re up to, instead of seeking out conversation.

Moving away from this mentality—a simple change in perspective and strategy—could make a big difference in social media results.

One way to ensure the content you share on social is balanced with a mix of megaphone and conversation is to use a social media sharing plan. We’ve covered some useful plans before:

  • 4-1-1 – 4 pieces of content from others, 1 reshare, 1 self-serving post
  • 5-3-2 – 5 pieces of content from others, 3 from you, 2 personal updates
  • Golden Ratio – 60% others’ content, 30% your content, 10% promotional
  • Rule of Thirds – 1/3 posts about you, 1/3 curated content, 1/3 conversations

Steven Shattuck at HubSpot has found these formulas to be useful for many businesses yet “curiously and uniquely inadequate for nonprofits.”

He proposes a three-part system for non-profits, the “Three A’s”:

  1. Appreciation
  2. Advocacy
  3. Appeals

Appreciation – 1/3 of your social updates should recognize your donors, supporters, volunteers, and employees

Advocacy – 1/3 should engage and share with the content of other groups or nonprofits who are relevant to your area

Appeals – 1/3 should solicit donations or help

Non-ProfitSocial MediaStrategy

29 No-Cost, Simple Strategies That Non-Profits Can Implement Today

1. Highlight a donor of the day or donor of the week.

Donor of the Day - Zero Percent, Facebook

These kinds of simple moments of appreciation can be powerful for building connections with your communities, and they can often make for attention-getting, visual content. (Bonus: The people you highlight will share with their friends.)

2. Interact with relevant pages and profiles

In addition to building community by highlighting your donors, you can also connect with those fellow nonprofits and companies who support your mission. Stay involved with their updates and shares by liking, favoriting, retweeting, sharing, and commenting. It’s great for community-building and helps boost your visibility to boot.

3. Tweet to landing pages with specific asks

If you have payments enabled on your website, send social media traffic back to your site and to specific landing pages. Make 5, 10, 20, or more landing pages, each with a specific ask, then compose a social media message to accompany each of these pages (part of the 1/3 “Appeals” section listed in the above strategy).

4. Create behind-the-scenes content

Non-profits by nature are a bit more open than traditional business. Take full advantage by sharing behind-the-scenes: Backstage at events, inside your planning sessions, around the office, etc.

5. Create and share a simple crowdfunding campaign

As an alternative to events or dinners, you can create a simple crowdfunding page (Crowdrise is a great spot) and share this with your social media followers, asking for a quick-and-easy donation.

6. Encourage peer-to-peer asks

Tools like Classy make it possible for your supporters to set up their own fundraising pages. They can then share these pages with their own followers, enabling a strong sense of 1:1 support.

7. Post a thank you message on a sponsor’s page

Thanking those who help make your work possible—everyone from donors to employees to sponsors—is a great way to fill the 1/3 appreciation section of your strategy. Sponsors pages in particular can be great places to engage as they likely have a strong following as well. Share a thank you on their page, and add one to your page, too.

8. Include an image in your tweets

From Noland Hoshino:

Twitter is like looking out the window of a fast moving train. If you insert insert a “billboard” (photo or graphic image) tweet, people will notice it.

(We’ve seen up to double the engagement with this strategy.)

9. Ask questions in your social media posts.

These tend to encourage conversation with your community and lead to higher amount of interactions and responses.

10. Share your content more than once

Here are some simple ideas from Lauren Girardin:

Share just the headline, write a tweet in an alternate engaging format (e.g. ask a question, quote a juicy bit), add an image, try a new hashtag, share at a different time of day or on the weekend, or add ICYMI (in case you missed it).

11. Track your social media mentions

We’ve written before about some great tools for social media monitoring. Mention is a favorite of ours here at Buffer.

12. Organize accounts into Twitter lists

You can build Twitter lists for just about anything: VIP supporters, sponsors, press, influencers, partners, fellow nonprofits, etc. And if you need to, any Twitter list can be made private.

13. Use Twitter lists for research

Look through the lists of your followers to find new, relevant people and accounts to follow.

14. Monitor and analyze those who follow you

Keep an eye on the new accounts who are following you. They might have great influence in an important area to you or have many followers you can reach out to. Social Rank is a simple and powerful tool for sorting through Twitter followers in this way.

15. Enlist a group of supporters to engage with your content

If you’re just getting started on social media, you might not be able to get great engagement form the start. To avoid the empty look and feel of a new account, encourage a small and active group of supporters to engage with your content.

16. Find and engage with influencers in your area

Followerwonk follower map

Followerwonk shows you analysis of your Twitter followers, including a map with a breakdown of where specifically each follower is. Keep clicking the map to get more and more granular with the location (country > state > city). To access this report, log in at Followerwonk and choose an Analyze report, with your @username and “analyze their followers.”

17. Discover the connections of your team

Tap into the networking aspect of social networking, on LinkedIn in particular, by looking at the connections of those in your organization.

18. Use closed groups on LinkedIn or Facebook

Chat internally with your team on LinkedIn or Facebook to help share resources or ideas. Also great for connecting with a team of volunteers or a board of advisors.

19. Reserve your name in all social media platforms. 

KnowEm is a great place to visit to see which social networks you’ve yet to claim.

20. Create your own Wikipedia page

Wikipedia pages can be great for social sharing and for helping manage your brand online. (They’re pretty great for SEO, too.) To create a page, go to the entry creation page at Wikipedia, and once you’ve created the entry, be sure to check back often and track any changes.

21. Allow social media as a communication preference for your members

Many people (millenials in particular) may prefer any notifications or messages to come via social media. You can add these folks to a group or list and message them directly when you might otherwise send an email.

22. When someone registers at your site, ask for a social media profile

This can be a simple extra field in your signup form (or for the especially tech-savvy, you can add social sign-in to your forms). Once you have the social media info, you can connect with this person and store his or her social media info in your donor database.

23. Offer text-to-give & tweet-to-give

As social media continues to go mobile, your payments can, too. Text-to-give is a slick way to help those who want to donate to be able to donate quickly.

Same goes for those who might want to donate directly from Twitter. You can register your non-profit at Charitweet to enable simple, micro-donations direct from Twitter.

24. Add social media PR contacts to your list

If you’re looking for press coverage for your non-profit, instead of going the traditional news route, you can find many great contacts online, including online-only publications and journalists who are primed for your topic. Some smart searches (“PR,” “[your topic],” “[your area],” etc.) can reveal some leads worth following.

25. Have a social media person on your board

Find someone who knows their stuff on social media and can help with formulating strategies or making plans should something go wrong on social.

26. Schedule routine drive-bys of your social media accounts

Fifteen minutes in the morning, afternoon, and evening may be enough to catch up on what’s been happening on your social accounts.

27. Find and participate in Twitter Chats 

Share your expertise and connect with like-minded people. You can search in a chat tool like Twubs to find a relevant Twitter chat on your area.

28. Respond to everyone

Responding completely is one way to help set yourself apart on social media. And if possible, it’s great to respond in a timely manner, typically 24 hours or less (or a couple hours or less on Twitter).

29. Ask about non-profit discounts for your favorite tools

Many online tools offer discounts for non-profit businesses.

Buffer has a 50 percent discount for non-profits!

Visit our page here, or get in touch directly with our support team to activate the discount for your organization.

10 Helpful Tools for Non-Profits

  1. Crowdrise – Crowdfunding platform ideally suited for nonprofit fundraising
  2. Amazon Smile – You can set up your organization to receive donations from Amazon purchases
  3. ClassyFirst Giving & Blackbaud – Peer to peer fund raising
  4. Mention & Social Mention – Social media monitoring
  5. Buffer – Social media scheduling and management
  6. Google for Non-Profits – Discounts on products for nonprofits
  7. Piryx – Web payments for non-profits
  8. Bloomerang – Fundraising management & software
  9. Harvest & Donate.ly – Online payments and donations for your website
  10. Charitweet – quick and simple microdonations with a tweet

Further resources

Recap

There appears to be great room for growth for non-profits on social media—and many ways to go about it! At the least, there’s certainly validation that social media is a great place for non-profits to invest. Take this list from the Huffington Post of seven reasons why social media is perfect for non-profits:

1. Get the word out cheaper and faster.

2. Use social context to drive friends of friends to participate.

3. Build a community of supporters.

4. More easily reach the people you’re out to serve.

5. Find and engage influencers to help spread the word.

6. Become a thought leader in the space you serve.

7. Better tell your story.

What have you learned about non-profit social media marketing?

What tactics have been helpful or effective?

I’d love to learn more from you on this topic. Feel free to add your input in the comments. See you there!

Image sources: Pablo, Death to the Stock Photo, IconFinderNonprofit Quarterly, HubSpot

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